A great day to be challenged by your beliefs...
We have a crossroads or rubicon set of commentaries for you today. Our lead commentary by Dr Andrew Kania is poignant, alarming and confronting. It might lead you to an entirely new take on the whole Jesus story. It's a commentary on the challenges and dilemmas faced by St Peter when he was questioned by Jesus on the level of his love and commitment. As Andrew shows it takes forensic skill to dig out the depth of the meaning. If we were only reliant on the English translation of the Scriptural words on which this commentary is based though could we ever be capable of understanding what the point of the message is? Before I shock you with what I am about to write in the second half of this email let me hasten to add I think the conclusion Dr Kania comes to is fundamentally correct: the point of the story of Jesus, and the point of the story of Peter, is that all of us, at some point or other in our lives, are brought to a similar position of choice. The correct response is the tough one. But not because it leads to martyrdom — a position of wallowing in our pain or martyrdom — but because it is the only path by which to climb through our pain and martyrdom, the imperfections of 'this' life, to resurrection. It's a paradox — contradictory thinking. It's like a Zen koan.
Now to shock you: in response to yesterday's email I received an email from another learned friend in the United States, Dr Rob Bell. You may have already seen it as I posted it as a letter to the editor on the forum. He writes:
Image of Bart D Ehrman and his latest book sourced from the salon.com article
Thanks for the latest Catholica.
I am reading "Misquoting Jesus: The story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why" by Bart D. Ehrman.
He traces all the texts of the bible from early days through to today. A scholarly work.
He says that there are as many mistakes in the bible as there are words in the bible.
So with all the missing gospels, the thousands of scribing errors, the parts left out and added for political reasons, how do we know what is true/correct?
It seems as though the Catholic Church's teachings are based on a house of cards, with most of the cards made of saw dust!
I wonder if you could get one of your erudite contributors to do a piece on the accuracy of the new testament and what it means to all of us.
Rob's letter has already led to some comment in the forum including a link DavidC has given us to another lengthy article about Bart D. Ehrman questioning the inerrancy of Scripture. (DavidC told us recently he's another of these "intellectuals" we need to be protected from — a retired professor — so gird your loins before you proceed further.)
No, I take that back. I'm going to write my response and conclusion to all of this in the forum later today. It's essentially a response to the question: how do we put these seeming contradictions together in our mind — the sort of literal interpretation Andrew Kania is exploring in today's lead commentary and the contradictions and possible errors in the Scriptural stories being brought to our attention by Rob Bell, DavidC and Bart D. Ehrman — and make it all coherent and sensible?
Can I just implore you — not for my sake but for your own — if you do nothing else today give yourself an hour or so, take yourself away to a quiet place and reflect long and hard on these difficult questions posed by the four intelligent thinkers I've mentioned in this email. You will emerge from it richer for the investment of your time. Here are the necessary links:
<Link to Andrew Kania's commentary today: "The Strength to Love">
<Link to the emerging discussion in the forum on Rob Bell's letter>
<Link to Bart D. Ehrman article in salon.com DavidC has drawn our attention to>
NOTE: If you have difficulties accessing the Bart Ehrman article see the note DavidC has included in his post. If you have time after all that don't forget to contribute to our on-going Holy Week Reflection:
<Contribute to the Holy Week Reflection>